In an otherwise bland but carefully worded statement, Special Counsel Robert Mueller offered clear instructions to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller stated unequivocally, knocking down both President Donald Trump’s insistence to the contrary and jabbing his former boss, Attorney General Bill Barr. He added that his investigation had made no such determination due to “longstanding department policy” that prohibits charging a president with federal crimes.
But citing the introduction to Volume Two of the report, Mueller made Congress’s duty clear.
“The opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president, because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available,” he said.
“Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now,” he said with a pointed glance. “Second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
It is clear -as clear as the skies here in sunny Tennessee- that Mueller is sending a message to Pelosi and the House majority.
“How much more obvious could it be?” Mueller is saying in the vulgar English translation. “My hands are freaking tied here. Nancy, do your goddamn job.”
Mueller added that he didn’t intend to help any further, saying “I hope and I expect that this will be the only time I speak to you in this manner,” adding that it wouldn’t be “appropriate” to speak further.
But more experienced hands at parsing statements seemed to hope otherwise.
I betcha a million dollars that if Congress began impeachment hearings Mueller would testify. That’s because, on principle (which is how he operates), he would then be a witness providing info relevant to an official, quasi-judicial proceeding, not a political prop.
— Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) May 29, 2019
For now, it’s as Republican Congressman Jason Amash says: “The ball is in our court, Congress.”